Indoor dining: is it safe?

Kaylan Hardin 

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Two weeks ago, local breakfast joint, Urban Egg in University Village, experienced a COVID-19 outbreak. According to a FOX 31 source, two of the restaurant’s employees tested positive for the virus.  

     Urban Egg is not the first restaurant to be reported on for an outbreak since the pandemic began. Although restaurants are opening up and allowing for indoor seating, can we ensure this idea is safe? 

     When COVID-19 first spread, it led to restaurants being shut down everywhere, but many restaurants didn’t stop providing their services. There were still drive-thru and delivery options.  

     Now that many months have passed, the regulations on restaurant services have eased up, with some reopening’s occurring back in May. People still have the option of pick up delivery and drive-thru meals, but now many restaurants have opened their doors and allowed for sit-down customer service. 

     According to Vox Media’s Eater website, “the government on both the local and federal levels insist this is the only way; people need to work, they say, the economy needs to keep moving, and everyone needs to feel a sense of normalcy.” 

     When I first heard of this, my first thought was that this doesn’t make sense. People still have to take their masks off to eat, allowing for possible exposures. Not only can customers expose and be exposed by others, but employees and staff as well. 

     Colorado chef Troy Guard, who was hoping to provide jobs back to 623 employees across multiple restaurant chains that he owns, shared his thoughts with CNBC in June. “We’re excited to reopen but we’re also very scared, cautious and nervous because things are just different,” he said. “There is no new normal yet. There is no normal right now. It’s an adjustment and it’s going to take time to really see how everything shakes out.” 

     The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists available options when it comes to getting food from your favorite restaurants, from lowest risk to highest risk.  

     The lowest-risk category includes “drive-thru, delivery, take-out and curb-side pick-up,” with the higher-risk options being “on-site dining with both indoor and outdoor seating,” even with reduced capacity “to allow tables to be spaced at least 6 feet apart.”  

     So, if indoor dining puts you and those around you at higher risk, why take the chance?  

     According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, “There are 17 active COVID-19 outbreaks at Colorado restaurants.” Of those 17 restaurants, a total of 50 restaurant employees tested positive.   

     In my opinion, restaurants can only prevent health risks by keeping contact to a minimum. Allowing indoor restaurant seating seems to increase the chance for contact and exposure to the virus; why take the risk?  

Urban Egg restaurant located in University Village.
Photo by Zach Robbins.